In the midst of the last general election, educationalist Joe Nutt wrote the following for Tes:
Teachers’ approach to politics falls into three broad categories.
First, there are many teachers who conflate politicising children with educating them. I think this originates at university, where the idea that your subject specialism is merely a means to an overtly political end is commonplace.
Second, there are many schoolteachers who, like their university counterparts, have decided consciously and deliberately to use teaching as the ideal way to implement their personal politics.
Finally, there are teachers who do everything in their power to encourage children to think for themselves and who, therefore, scrupulously avoid any possible expression of their own political thinking.
They believe their job is to nurture thought, the pursuit of knowledge and creativity in others. They have the intellectual agility to adopt any political or ideological stance at will, to present the children they teach with a wide range of third-party views, without ever revealing their privately held opinions or politics.
Crucially, they know that to do so actually makes it impossible for them to nurture freedom of thought.
From where I stand, having visited many hundreds of schools here and abroad, far too many elbows have been slyly leaning on one side of the scales in the UK for decades and the key reason we are still trying to develop a world-class education system is because of the detrimental weighting that favours those first two approaches.
The more teachers who recognise the profession’s greater social responsibilities, who are able to relinquish their personal views and demonstrate a bit of realpolitik by locking real politics firmly and pragmatically in the cupboard at the back of the classroom, the better.
To read the full version of this article, visit bit.ly/NuttBias